‘Perseverance Through Strength and Unity’

Weighing In

By Capt. Bob Fox, ALPA First Vice President

This month, ALPA is honored to host the 66th Air Safety Forum after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Appropriately themed “Perseverance Through Strength and Unity,” this year’s premier safety event will highlight how the Association remained strong and running effectively throughout the pandemic due to our dedicated and unified pilot representatives.

During this year’s gathering, we’ll continue the tradition of working alongside our U.S. and Canadian counterparts in government and industry and asking the tough questions, speaking the uncomfortable truths, and engaging in consensus-building dialogue to advance our goals in safety, security, pilot assistance, and jumpseat initiatives.

Our public forum will once again feature topical panel discussions on subjects such as health and air quality, training challenges, using data to enhance safety, and the integration of other vehicles—piloted and remotely piloted—into our shared airspace. We also have several keynote speakers from the highest levels of U.S. and Canadian government and industry.

The Air Safety Forum will also give us the time to honor those individuals responsible for past successes that we continue to build upon today. Their contributions have made crucial improvements in safety, security, pilot assistance, and jumpseat possible. We’ll celebrate ALPA flight crews who’ve performed heroically in the course of their everyday duties. Too often, these outstanding pilots go about their work without recognition, simply doing the job and meeting the demands of their profession. Yet their decisions and actions in moments of crisis have helped avert catastrophe, and their stories serve as real-life examples that attest to the single-most effective aviation safety feature on any airliner: two highly trained and fully qualified pilots.

These ALPA pilots—and so many others—are what our Association is all about. Safety comes first for our members, whether on the flight deck demonstrating their training and qualifications that keep our skies safe or volunteering their time and energy outside of the flight deck to enhance aviation safety and security. Their experiences also lend credence to some of our most pressing priorities, including maintaining important pilot safety qualifications and stopping any effort to reduce the number of crewmembers on the flight deck.

Their experiences factor into the decisions they make as pilot-in-command and the safety redundancies they’re able to provide when sitting on the jumpseat. They’re the reason the resources and programs we make available to our members have become the gold standard.

In addition, their experiences are the reasons airline pilots are so successful when meeting with regulators and lawmakers. Sharing their personal accounts allows for a unique and thoughtful perspective on key aviation topics. It’s our history, our reputation, our professionalism, our grit, and our determination that give us a seat at the table.

Since 1931, ALPA pilot volunteers have generously dedicated their time and shared their expertise to make commercial air transportation the safest form of travel. From walking the halls of the Capitol and Parliament and meeting with lawmakers on pilot-partisan issues to serving as subject-matter experts on government and industry committees on topics that will surely impact the piloting profession, ALPA pilots—through strength and perseverance—have defined and solidified this union’s mission to prioritize safety. Their work is one of the many reasons why ALPA is held in such high esteem and our expertise is sought by U.S. and Canadian regulators and within the airline industry.

The tradition of ALPA honoring our outstanding members dates back to 1957, when Capt. Ernie Cutrell (American) received the Association’s first Air Safety Award for helping to develop standards for a centerline approach lighting system, a standard that was subsequently adopted nationally. Since then, generations of pilots have been honored with ALPA’s highest recognition, and their contributions reflect the evolution of not just air travel, but also of our profession.

Our U.S. and Canadian air transport systems continue to boast an unparalleled safety record—due in no small part to gatherings like ALPA’s Air Safety Forum. Through collaboration, we continue to seek out improvements and guide government and industry stakeholders with our expertise and passion, all to advance the cause of aviation safety and security for our passengers and cargo—now and in the future. This union has survived and continues to thrive due to our perseverance through strength and unity.

Look for more coverage of the Air Safety Forum in future issues of Air Line Pilot.

This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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